World Journal of Urology

, 27:151

Shortcomings of the current TNM classification for penile carcinoma: time for a change?

Topic Paper



Accurate tumor staging is essential in the management of malignancies. It provides a guide in selecting accurate treatment and gives an indication of prognosis based on the extent of disease. The current TNM classification for penile carcinoma has remained unchanged since 1987. In this article, we focus on several deficiencies of the current classification.

Materials and methods

An analysis of the current literature regarding the current classification was done, focusing on known prognostic factors for survival. Furthermore, we discuss in detail the results from a recent analysis of more than 500 patients treated at our institute to evaluate the practical and prognostic value of the TNM-classification.


We found that, using the current classification system, accurate clinical staging is often difficult, because the T and N categories are defined by structures that are not easily identified using physical examination or imaging. Furthermore, the prognostic stratification of the present staging system is not optimal and there is a substantial overlap in disease-specific survival between several categories. We give an overview of modifications that could improve clinical staging and prognostic ability.


The current TNM classification for penile carcinoma has several shortcomings in terms of usability in clinical staging and prognostic value. With modifications clinical staging is facilitated, while the prognostic stratification of the classification is improved.


Neoplasm staging Penile carcinoma 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of UrologyThe Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek HospitalAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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